The Basics

Canceling Our $10,000+ Family Vacation and Preparing for a Redo

Written by Charlie

Due to the coronavirus outbreak, we had to cancel our gift of a $10,000 family vacation. Thankfully, we were able to recover the pieces to try again!

We are far from the only family that has had to cancel travel plans due to the coronavirus outbreak. It is amazing but just a couple of weeks ago, things still seemed like air travel and visiting was totally doable. Now? Millions of people are locked down and more will be in the coming days. Not only that, but airlines around the world are grounding most of their fleet as air travel as dried up.

Canceling Our $10,000+ Family Vacation

Last year, our family won the $10,000 travel giveaway from the US Travel Association as part of their annual Daily Getaways. I had mentioned in the post that we were considering going to San Diego and had some other nice suggestions.

The travel giveaway gave us $10,000 in travel that would be booked by the US Travel Association for us. We could use it for flights, rental cars, lodging, and activities. 

We still landed on San Diego since we saw a ton of things that we knew the kids would really like and they started to get pretty excited about it. Plus, San Diego can be expensive, even with hotel points, so this would really let us go beyond what we would normally do.

Our Original Trip

We were to have flown Turkish Airlines (from Europe) in just about two weeks to Los Angeles. From there, we were going to pop over to Arizona to visit family for a couple of days (and pick up a rental van that was costing just $11 per day since it was a one-way to California!) and then drive to San Diego.

Our first part of the San Diego trip was actually to have been with Hilton points to put us in the center of the things we were doing. Part of what the $10K travel had paid for was a GoCity Pass for 7 days for our whole family.

I had been working with a great agent that was booking this for us and he told me I could let him know when I found things at the prices I wanted.  Of course, I knew that would be around Black Friday! 🙂 Sure, enough, we were able to stack some great deals to get it for just under $1,400 for 7 days for 6 of us.

After the 7-day pass, we found an absolutely fantastic AirBnB outside of San Diego with great stuff for the kids, swimming pool, the works. The rest of our $10K travel budget went to book that for 8 days. We had it – the perfect vacation and one we were all excited about!

Canceling Our Vacation

As of a couple of weeks ago, things were, of course, changing quickly. We considered moving the trip around and staying longer out in California (thanks to Turkish’s generous change policy in light of current circumstances) but as time pressed on, we knew it was best to cancel our trip.

Next came the unraveling of our family’s dream vacation! The kids were great sports about it and decided to move it to the fall instead. So, here is how each part played out and how we are able to keep it all intact.

The Tickets

Turkish will give us open tickets to use anywhere within those regions and good through February 28, 2021. Perfect – we can fly anywhere we want within those two regions and not have any change fee or fare increase. Total loss – $0


This was an easy one. We paid with Hilton points which means we could cancel up to 48 hours before anyway. So, just canceled the reservation and the 250K points were back in our account. Total loss – $0 / 0 points

Car Rental

never prepay car reservations. Since you don’t have to pay any cancelation fee with regular reservations, it always gives me flexibility to rebook and save so I always go that route. In this case, we had a minivan for 19 days for just $367 (a $50 discount is in there thanks to using the Alamo $50 coupon that may have won us this trip in the first place!). Total loss – $0


AirBnB currently has a policy in place that covers reservations prior to April 14. Ours was to be after that which means we would only get half the money back. Fortunately, our would-be host was fantastic and offered to cancel the whole thing for free. Very nice! Total loss – $0

Southwest Tickets

We had booked Southwest tickets (and rebooked a few times to save more points) from LAX to Phoenix. That cost just under 14,000 points for all of us. Fortunately, Southwest always gives free refunds of points so one button and we had those back. Total lost – $0

GoCity Pass

This was the last part of the equation. We cannot get a refund on this pass but we also have 1 year from the date of purchase to activate it, after which we have 7 days. It has never been activated so we have until the end of November to use it. At this point, we get to keep it and do not pay anything extra. Total loss – $0

Putting It All Together for the Future

So, we have been very fortunate that we have not lost a dime in this – and that is even with non-refundable tickets and AirBnB reservation! So, now we have all the pieces in place and we can watch and see what happens with the virus outbreak.

There are some upsides to canceling. Now, we can make the trip with Turkish anytime we want without worrying about the cost of tickets. Yes! Even better, the original terms for the giveaway specified that the trip had to be taken 1 year from when we won it. Well, they gave us permission to utilize it whenever we want insight of everything.

That means, as long as we make the trip before the end of November, we will not have lost anything. We will have to pay a bit more for the rental vehicle but that will be it.

Bottom Line

Cancelling a long-awaited family vacation is never fun. But, we were able to get everything out of this one that went into it and now we get to plan it again for the future. It will still be a great trip and now we have a little more flexibility!

I know many have lost vacations as a result of this. Definitely check with your airlines and hotels as everyone is offering rebooking opportunities or credit for future bookings. You can still make it happen but you will need to take some steps to get it all put back right.

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About the author


Charlie has been an avid traveler and runner for many years. He has run in marathons around the world for less than it would cost to travel to the next town - all as a result of collecting and using miles and points. Over the years, he has flown hundreds of thousands of miles and collected millions of miles and points.
Now he uses this experience and knowledge to help others through Running with Miles.